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Muslim Removing the Clitoris; Saudi Religious Police

Female circumcision—cut the whole thing off


97% of Egyptian women have been mutulated


By MAGGIE MICHAEL, Associated Press Writer 6/26/07


By MAGGIE MICHAEL, Associated Press Writer 6/26/07

CAIRO, Egypt - The death of a 12-year-old Egyptian girl at the hands of a doctor performing female circumcision has sparked a public outcry and prompted health and religious authorities to ban the practice.

The girl, Badour Shaker, died this month while undergoing the procedure in an illegal clinic in the southern town of Maghagh. Her mother, Zeniab Abdel Ghani, told the Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper that she paid about $9 to a female physician to perform the procedure.

The mother also told the paper the doctor tried to bribe her to withdraw a lawsuit accusing the physician of murdering her daughter, in return for $3,000, but she refused.

A forensic inquiry into the case showed the girl's death was caused by an anesthesia overdose.

The case sparked widespread condemnation of female circumcision, or genital mutilation, and was closely followed in Egyptian newspapers, which also reported the girl had passed out sweets to pupils in her class earlier on the day of her death, to celebrate her good grades.

It also evoked memories of a 1995 CNN television documentary depicting a barber circumcising a 10-year-old girl in a Cairo slum.

On Thursday, the Egyptian Health Ministry issued a decree stating that it is "prohibited for any doctors, nurses, or any other person to carry out any cut of, flattening or modification of any natural part of the female reproductive system, either in government hospitals, nongovernment hospitals or any other places."

It warned that violators would be punished, but did not specify the penalty. The ban is not as enforceable as a law, which requires passage in the national legislature.

Female genital mutilation usually involves the removal of the clitoris and other parts of female genitalia. Those who practice it say it tames a girl's sexual desire and maintains her honor.

It is practiced by Muslims and Christians alike, deeply rooted in the Nile Valley region and parts of sub-Saharan African, and is also done in Yemen and Oman.

The ban by the Health Ministry marks a return to a 1950s government order prohibiting hospitals and doctors from carrying out the procedure.

After that order, the practice continued in Egypt, mostly carried out by barbers, midwives and other amateurs. The order was reversed in 1995, shortly after the CNN documentary, with only medical staff permitted to perform the procedure.

Although the documentary embarrassed Cairo internationally, it failed to propel the parliament to pass legislation penalizing female circumcision.

A 2003 survey by UNICEF said that 97 percent of married women in Egypt have undergone genital mutilation.

A recent study by Egypt's Ministry of Health and Population found that 50.3 percent of girls between the age of 10-18 years have been circumcised.

After the girl's death, the country's supreme religious authorities stressed that Islam is against female circumcision.

"Its prohibited, prohibited, prohibited," Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa said on the privately owned al-Mahwar network.

While top clerics insist the practice has nothing to do with Islam, parents, especially in villages and Cairo slums, believe they are helping their daughters. They think circumcision is necessary for cleanliness and to protect a girl's virginity before marriage.

Opponents say girls can bleed to death, suffer chronic urinary infections and have life-threatening complications in childbirth as a result of the procedure.

The Al-Masry Al-Youm daily reported the doctor in Shaker's case denied allegations of malpractice and said the girl was in a "bad condition" to start with, and was immediately transferred to a regular hospital where she died. The doctor was not identified.

Egypt's renowned feminist activist, Nawal el-Saadawi, 76, who has published a biography on her own experience with circumcision, wrote: "Badour, did you have to die for some light to shine in the dark minds? Did you have to pay with your dear life a price ... for doctors and clerics to learn that the right religion doesn't cut children's organs."


Muslim Posted on: Saturday, 23 June 2007, 12:00 CDT, source AP on line (Associated Press)

Saudi Religious Police Trial Postponed

By Donna Abu-nasr


Ryadh, Saudi Arabia - A judge on Saturday postponed the trial of three members of Saudi Arabia's religious police for their alleged involvement in the death of a man arrested after being seen with a woman who was not his relative. The judge did not set a new date for the trial, the first of its kind in this conservative nation, but assured the man's family the postponement was just procedural, according to a family representative.

Ahmed al-Bulaiwi, a retired border patrol guard in his early 50s, died in custody shortly after his June 1 arrest by religious police in the northern city of Tabuk. "He went into custody a healthy man. He got out in a funeral procession," his cousin, Audah al-Bulaiwi, who is representing the family in court, told The Associated Press by phone from Tabuk. The Tabuk governorate said al-Bulaiwi died as a result of a severe drop in blood pressure and failure of the respiratory system.

The police became suspicious after they observed the woman getting into his car near an amusement park, according to accounts published by the local media. Under the kingdom's rules, a woman cannot drive, and can only go out in public with her father, brother, son or husband. An investigation showed that al-Bulaiwi, who supplemented his pension by working as a driver, was asked by the family of the woman, who was in her 50s, to drive her home, according to press reports.

Al-Bulaiwi's cousin said the trial was postponed because the documents he presented to the judge were incomplete. While Saudis are allowed to appoint lawyers, many choose to send a family representative instead. A statement by the governorate of Tabuk this week did not say how long the trial would last, what the charges against the men were or what punishment they could face if found guilty. Still, the case was seen as a major setback for the Commission for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice, a feared government body that employs the religious police. It has long been resented for intimidating people and meddling into the most minute aspects of their lives.

The religious police, informally known as the muttawa, patrol public places, including malls, to ensure that women are covered in the mandatory black abaya, or cloak, that the sexes do not mix in public, that shops close five times a day for prayers and that the men go to the mosque and worship. The muttawa don't wear uniforms, but are recognizable by their long beards and their robes, shorter than the ones normally worn by Saudi men.

While many Saudis say they support the idea of having the commission because its mandate is based on several verses in the Quran, Islam's holy book, they also say its members exploit their broad mandate to interfere in people's lives. “It's the governmental body that violates human rights the most," said Abdul-Rahman al-Lahem, a human rights activist and lawyer. "The commission members say they are acting in the name of religion, a claim that has given them immunity against any criticism."

Another investigation is under way into a second fatal incident, in which Saudi national Sulaiman al-Huraisi died last month while in custody of the religious police who had raided his house in Riyadh because they suspected he had alcohol on the premises. Liquor is illegal in Saudi Arabia.  Al-Lahem said witnesses reported that the muttawa beat al-Huraisi "severely" and that he was bleeding heavily when he was taken into their custody.

The deaths have sparked a public outcry against the religious police, with almost daily coverage in the kingdom's government-guided papers and commentaries urging the government to reform the commission.  "This campaign will end the sacredness surrounding the commission and will pave the way for its reform," said al-Lahem.  In 2002, a wave of anti-commission writings was triggered by eyewitness accounts suggesting the muttawa caused several deaths by stopping a group of schoolgirls from fleeing a school fire because they were not covered in the mandatory black cloaks. A government investigation disputed the witnesses' accounts and found that the 15 girls who perished were trampled to death on the school's stairs. The criticism died down after the investigation.



When religion ruled the world they called it "the Dark Ages."  The religious zealots oppose light.  Orthodox Jews and fundamentalist Christians would if they controlled government have their own muttawa.


John Stuart Mill on the evils of religion--one page says it all!